Monday, 29 April 2013

The 10 Most Ridiculously Awesome Geeky Computer Pranks

Everybody loves a good prank… unless you are the one on the receiving end of the fun. It’s time to hone your pranking skills, not just to make sure you are the best, but so you can avoid being pranked by others.
Yeah, sure, we could go with the old standards, like a blue screen of death screensaver or something like that, but it’s time to use our geek skills and come up with something better. We’ll cover some of the old favorites too, but maybe with a twist. Note: Many of these pranks require being able to access somebody’s computer physically, and many others require them to leave their PC logged in and unattended. You’ll have to plan accordingly.
Disclaimer: Get a sense of humor.

Make the Space Key Write the Word SPACE

Here’s a clever prank for you: Make the victim’s computer actually type the word “SPACE” every time they hit the space bar. They’ll be lost trying to figure out what on earth is going on, and it couldn’t be simpler.
Just create a new AutoHotkey script and drop in the following two lines of code—the first one is to hide the tray icon, and the second sets up the hotkey for replacing the text.
You’ll probably want to right-click on the script and compile it to an executable before putting it on their computer. I’m not providing a download for this! Just stick it somewhere on their PC, launch it, and watch the fun!
What’s really entertaining is that while I was testing this out, I accidentally pranked myself—my AHK scripts are stored in Dropbox and synced across all my PCs, and I’d forgotten about it on my desktop. Whoops!

Pretend to Install Linux on a Windows User’s PC with a Live CD

This one can’t be simpler—just find somebody at work who turns their PC off at night, come in before them, and boot off a Linux Live CD. Then leave an official-looking memo on their desk saying they’ve been upgraded to Linux, and watch them struggle to figure out what on earth they are doing. You’ll probably want to get rid of the Install icon, of course.

Create a Shutdown Shortcut that Looks like a Folder

This one is really simple to do—just create a shortcut to shutdown.exe on the desktop, and then change the icon to a regular folder, so when they double-click the folder to see what it might contain, they get a nice system shutdown notice instead. You can change the shutdown time to really far in the future so they won’t lose any work, but mostly so they get the full benefit of your nerd skills.
shutdown -s -t 1925000 -c “System error: overloaded porn folder”
If they are using XP, the effect is nice and dramatic, and you can even have some fun with the shutdown time… on Windows 7 you won’t be able to show off your geek skills quite as well, but they’ll still see something that will confuse them.
Note: on Windows 7 or Vista you’d also need to disable UAC or else they’ll see a prompt.

Switch the Keyboard Layout To DVORAK

If you really want to screw with somebody without installing anything, just enable the Dvorak alternate keyboard layout that even most geeks aren’t familiar with. When they type, everything will go haywire.
Head into Control Panel –> Region and Language –> Keyboards –> Change keyboards, then click the Add button and pick the Dvorak layout (or any other random layout you want). Once you’ve done that, use the drop-down above to set the default.
You’ll probably want to flip over to the Language Bar tab and set that to hidden as well, so they won’t be able to figure it out easily.

Plug a Wireless USB Mouse / Keyboard Into Their PC

This usually works out better if the other person has a desktop PC, because you can hide the wireless mouse or keyboard receiver behind their PC, and then every so often type an extra letter, or move the mouse slightly. If you do it right, you can have some fun with this one for a long time. The great thing is that this should work for almost anybody, including people that keep their computer locked all the time.
If they do have a laptop and a wireless mouse, you can simply replace their wireless mouse with an identical-looking one, since it won’t work for their PC. They’ll assume their mouse batteries are dead, and you can move the mouse pointer around the screen with their mouse. The prank won’t last as long, but it will be every bit as fun.
Obviously the picture, courtesy of ehavir, shows a wired keyboard—but it’ll work much better with a wireless setup.

Stick a Message Into their System Clock

We’ve covered this before, but you can easily stick custom text into the clock that sits in the taskbar—and most people won’t have a clue how to switch it back. Just head into Control Panel –> Region and Language –> Additional Settings –> Time, and change the AM or PM symbols to whatever you want. Or you can read how to do it for Windows 7 or Vista.

Reverse Their Trackpad or Mouse Wheel Scrolling

You can really throw somebody for a loop if you use a simple AutoHotkey script to flip their trackpad to scroll in the opposite direction. They’ll be completely confused! If they happen to have a laptop with a Synaptics touchpad, you can actually tweak this setting right in the Control Panel –> Mouse dialog, but otherwise, check out our article covering the script method, that should work anywhere.

Add Common Typos or Funny Words to MS Word’s Dictionary or AutoComplete

There’s any number of possibilities for this one, and the sky is really the limit—the idea is that you put something custom into the AutoCorrect so whatever they type gets replaced with something else.
You can go subtle with it, and just replace a properly typed word with a typo instead, or you can get in their face with something more fun—like making anytime they type their name end up replacing it with “<Name> is a jerk”. Loads of fun.
For Word 2007 or 2010, head to the Office button –> Options –> Proofing –> AutoCorrect Options. For previous versions… I have no idea. If you want this to be system-wide, you can use AutoHotkey instead.

Setup Task Scheduler Jobs to Launch Random Apps (or a Web Page)

Even a serious geek is going to be pretty lost on how to troubleshoot a new tab repeatedly opening to a certain page every couple of minutes, if you bury that inside the task scheduler. Just go in and create a new task, run through the wizard and pick the browser executable, plug the site name into the arguments box, and then set the schedule to repeat the task every 5 minutes.

Set the Mouse Pointer to Look Always Busy (to Make Their PC Look Like It’s Hanging)

Nice and simple, but oh so fun! Just head into Control Panel –> Mouse –> Pointers and change the Normal pointer to the busy one. They’ll think their computer is hanging all the time, but it’s really not. For extra fun, you could make the mouse pointers gigantic.

Activate High Contrast Mode (with a Single Hotkey!)

There’s a built-in accessibility option that can be very confusing to somebody who doesn’t know how to turn it off, and it requires only pressing one shortcut key sequence:
Shift + Alt + Printscreen
That’s it. Once you press that key combo, their desktop will get flipped to the high contrast mode—you can press it again to go back to normal. The great thing is that even if their computer is locked, you can enable high contrast with the icon on the lower left corner. On Mac OS X, you can press Ctrl+Opt+Cmd+8 to invert the screen’s colors.

The Old-School Favorite: Move the Desktop Icons, Take a Screenshot, Set as the Wallpaper

Most geeks have done this at some point in their career, because it’s both simple and irritating, especially for somebody who isn’t expecting it. The basic principle works one of a couple of ways:
  1. Take a screenshot of the desktop with the icons where they are, set it as the wallpaper, and then hide the desktop icons.
  2. Move the desktop icons around, or create bogus icons, take a screenshot, and then set it as the wallpaper. This way some icons work, and some don’t.
  3. Take the screenshot of the desktop, and then hide the taskbar below the bottom of the screen before setting the wallpaper (this only works on XP). Even better: flip the image upside down before doing it.
The result looks something like the image above, assuming you followed the second idea and created a folder on the desktop that they’d be sure to notice right away. They’ll keep clicking, but nothing will happen.
Bonus? Combine this with the shutdown shortcut so when they do figure it out and try and open the folder… it’ll give them the shutdown prank too!

7 Google+ Tricks

Critics say that Google+ is merely a copycat attempting to dethrone Facebook as the king of social media. But it has a few tricks up its sleeve that set it apart from the pack.
Here are a few ways to use Google+ to give your marketing a kick in the pants that Facebook didn’t see coming.
The big bad Google+ wolf has some magic up it’s sleeve methinks… (image source)

1. Use hangouts to hold meetings or deliver live presentations

Google+ has a hangouts feature, which lets users hold conferences or present to groups of users. The functionality of hangouts has recently been improved to allow screen sharing, resulting in the ability to show a slide presentation while the presenter speaks. Marketers can basically offer complete webinars from within their Google+ dashboard! Pretty awesome!
Share your screen with new enhanced Hangouts features.
The one caveat to using hangouts in your marketing and customer engagement strategy is that it can’t be set to private, so anyone can join a hangout. Therefore,hangouts for marketing and presentation purposes should be used for free events and shouldn’t contain any proprietary knowledge.

2. What’s hot on Google+?

In the left-hand menu, users can click on “What’s Hot,” which takes them to a page featuring the most valuable and newsworthy posts currently trending on the network. Marketers looking for the most up-to-date Google+ hacks or hot topics for a blog post or presentation will find this feature useful. On the downside, it’s not possible to drill down to hot topics by category.
What’s hot is a quick trending topics search.

3. Add sparks to follow topics

When a user types a search query in the Google+ search bar, results pages include people, recent posts and pages. Users can narrow the results by showing only people and pages, only posts or hangouts. Another option allows users to funnel the results to show only those from a certain geographic area.
Finally, users can opt to categorize results by interest by selecting Sparks from the drop-down menu. When this search is saved, the topic of interest will be added to the user’s left-hand menu for easy access to the most recent results at any time.
Save a search as a “Spark” to create a new menu item. Clicking the new Spark from the menu creates an immediate topic search.

4. Empty circles for easy bookmarking

The Google+ circle design has mixed reviews. Some experts love the concept of easily sorting contacts into various categories, with the simplicity of sharing certain content with a distinct group of followers. Others say Google+ circles are too confusing for the average user.
Aside from categorizing contacts, circles can be used to create a private collection of notes or bookmarks. For instance, a user can create an empty circle titled, “Notes.” As he skims his Google+ newsfeed, he encounters a sweet free download, an interesting article on the latest political drama, and a mention of Oli Gardner, that landing page guy he’s been hearing about and meaning to follow. All these items can be quickly saved for later by clicking “share” and sharing it with his personal “Notes” circle. None of the information has been shared with contacts and it’s all neatly stowed in the “Notes” circle for easy access anytime.
Share status updates with an empty circle as an easy bookmarking method.
Circles can also be used to bookmark an individual’s favorite websites or resources using the same process. And, because there’s no limit on the number of circles one person can have, the most organized users can create individual empty circles to categorize notes and bookmarks by topic.
This post is being shared with a circle titled, “Social Media Strategy.” Later, the user can revisit this circle to download Chris Brogan’s G+ for Business book.

5. Chrome extended share extension

Google+ is behind the curve issuing their API, which would allow third-party applications to access posts and distribute them through other channels. It’s not uncommon for marketers to post to several sites simultaneously, so it’s likely that Google+ will step up and issue an API soon. In the meantime, the Google Chrome browser offers a feature (available from the Chrome Web Store with a simple click) that will enable users to share content to Twitter, Facebook or both when posting a status update to Google+.
Extended share allows users to post updates to Facebook and Twitter.

6. Disable direct message sharing

Social networks are by nature public venues, but there are still some items users prefer to keep to themselves or share with a select group. Any post or direct message on Google+ can be easily re-shared by recipients. To avoid public sharing of your updates, users should select “Disable reshare” when posting updates meant to be private.

7. Get real-time notifications

Another browser extension, Surplus enables users to get real-time notifications of updates and messages. Users can even reply from within the Google Chrome extension and post new updates without ever leaving their current Web or visiting the Google+ page.

Google+ can be tricky for marketers initially, but those who work past the nuances to learn the insider tricks and hacks will find this social network an incredibly valuable marketing tool. By taking advantage of a few hacks, tricks and work-arounds, marketers can build on the basic uses of Google+. And it’s only a matter of time before more features and functionality are introduced, enabling Google+ to remain competitive in the social media sphere.

30 Tricks, Apps, and Extensions for Google Plus You Don’t Know About

google plus tips
Google Plus is still the new kid on the social media block. With 500 million users registered as of January 2013, most users still treat + as the red headed step child. This may be due to slow adoption and a tricky interface. Here are some useful tips, tricks, hacks, extensions, and apps for novices and experts alike to enhance your Google Plus experience and maximize the most out of your account.

Google Plus Basics

If you are a Plus Pro, skip ahead to the next section while we get some basics out of the way. Your circles, descriptions of circles, and the people in the circles are not visible to anyone else but you. Choose which circles to be visible on your page by editing your profile and going into “Circles”.
+1 Tab
This is the equivalent of the Facebook “Like”. Everything you have ever +1 can be viewed and managed with the +1 tab on the top, horizontal column.
Name Link
Talk to and highlight anyone in a post by adding + or @ before their name
Profile Pics
Click on a user’s profile pic to scroll through their pictures.
Private Messages
Send a private message by removing all circles from your upcoming post. Then type the name of the person or circle you want to see the post, and make sure to disable resharing.
Add Media
You can add photos, videos, and links to your posts by dragging the links directly to the share box.
Mute Posts
Quit receiving notifications for any post buy clicking “Mute this post” in the top right corner
Edit Posts and Pictures
One of the wonderful things about Google+ posts and pictures is the endless editing. Click the “Edit” button to do this. Delete posts by clicking “Delete this Post” in the top-right corner; delete any comment by clicking the “X”.
Disable Comments
You can disable comments or reshare for posts written by you. Click on the triangle in the right corner of the post and select “Disable Comments” or “Disable Reshare”.
See How Others View Your Profile
Input any user’s name, select “Edit Profile”, and make the alterations to your profile for only that specific person.

Google Plus Text and Format Shortcuts

Bold: *word*
Italics: _word _
Strikethrough: -word-
Scroll down: space
Scroll up: shift + space
Scroll down one post: J
Scroll up one post: K
Start a comment: enter/return
End a comment: tab + enter/return

Google Plus Browser Extensions

Surplus for Google+
Get real time Google Plus notifications of updates and messages with the Surplus extension. You can reply from within the Surplus extension and create new posts without leaving the website you are currently on.
Plus Minus for Google+
Have you seen your circle number decrease? Install Plus Minus to see who unfollows or removes you from their Google Plus circle. A pop up automatically appears on your browser whenever someone cuts the cord with you.
Golden View for Google+
Let’s be honest, some people can be annoying on social media. This notification mutes all posts for specific users. These users won’t be notified. Hooray!
Circloscope (Inactives+) for Google Plus
There’s a limit of 5,000 for the total number of profiles that can be included across all your circles. This includes +pages. There’s also an unknown daily limit to prevent spammers. If either of these penalties happen to you, there’s a sweet app called Circloscope that lets you clean out inactive Google Plus users. Set a “No Posts Since” date to remove people who aren’t posting.
Share for Google+
This nifty extension lets you share content to Twitter, Facebook and / or LinkedIn when posting a status or media on Google Plus.

Google Plus Smartphone Apps

Google Plus App (Free)
The official Google Plus App just got a brand new update and it’s impressive in speed and beauty. Share your life as it happens with Google+ for iPhone, iPad, and Android. Join a Hangout, post a photo, or see what friends are sharing while you’re on the go.
iStatus Plus (.99)
Post to Google+, Facebook, and Twitter at the same time thanks to iStatus Plus. Choose which circles to share with when posting to Google +. Toggle services with just one click.
Move2Plus for Facebook and Google Plus ($1.99)
Move2Plus is a sweet and simple app that copies over all of your Facebook albums, photos, and captions to your Google Plus account. This is done without losing album structure or creating any duplicates. None of your Facebook or Google+ albums or photos will be edited or deleted.
Dating for Google Plus (.99)
Ever get catfished or fooled by online dating? First of all, I’m so sorry, and secondly, this dating networking app allows users to connect to Google Plus in order to verify that you are a real person. This app is strictly used for confidence in knowing who you are talking to his (maybe) real.

Google Plus Hangouts

“Hangouts” are video calls perfect for a live presentation, small business meeting or get together with friends. Simply click “Start a Hangout”, send out the invitations, confirm your settings, then “Hang Out”.
You can invite up to ten people; adding people once the hangout has started is allowed.
One amazing thing about “Hangouts” is interacting with people speaking different languages. Translate their talk with Google’s “Listen” feature.
Every hour in a Google Hangout you spend 720MB of bandwidth, so keep an eye out on your bandwidth consumption.
“Hangouts” are not available for mobile yet.

#Hashtags for Google Plus

Hashtags aren’t for Twitter or Instagram any more! Hashtags for Google Plus are a great way to get noticed in Google Plus’ Search. Google Plus is a giant search engine, so hashtags are extremely helpful for searching whatever you’d like.
Add a # before any word you want to be searched for. You can literally hashtag any word you’d like. This works on both posts and now comments.
You can search for hashtags by your friends only by filtering Google Plus search using Hashtags and Circles. Search for your hashtags only by filtering the search results by choosing the “From You” option.

More Google Plus Tips and Tricks

Vanity Google Plus URL (Sorta)
To have a better vanity URL, check out HostDime’s URL went from the nonsensical to the more useful
Import Instagram Pictures
If you want to move your Instagram pictures over to Google Plus, use Instagram archive website Instaport.
Import Facebook Pictures
Move your Facebook pictures to Google Plus with web application Picasa.
Facebook Stream Inside Google Plus
Thanks to “Social Anywhere”, connect your Facebook stream to your Google Plus and never leave Google again. UPDATE: Seems like Social Anywhere does not work anymore.
Google Plus to RSS
Is Google Plus blocked at work? Use this clever work-around that turns your Google Plus into an RSS feed.
Bookmark Circle
Here’s a fun little way to keep track of your bookmarks. Create a new circle and name it “Bookmarks” or whatever you want. Don’t add anyone in it. Any links you want to save, share them with this circle.
Topsy for Google+
Interested in seeing what people are saying about you or your brand on Google Plus? Check out Topsy’s Google Plus Beta Search. Topsy provides instant search results and analytics for Google Plus and Twitter as well. Topsy is also great for checking out what’s currently trending on Google Plus.
Turn Google Plus Chat into HD Chat
The Google Plus video chat uses standard definition. You shouldn’t have to stand for that in 2013. Enable High Definition if your webcam is built for it. Click the triangle next to the chat and choose “Enable High Resolution Video” in the settings.
Now that you are a Google Plus pro, add HostDime on Google Plus.

Make Gadget Discussions More Interactive by Using Chatwing Chat Software

Knowing the latest available gadgets online and upgrades are important. Latest advancement helps us improve our tools and make our work easier. Visiting orcreating a website or blog that discusses gadgets and how they work can assist a lot of web surfers and is also an effective yet subtle way to market or promote a product. Utilize an efficient and effective tool to connect with your target visitor. As a blogger, I understand the importance of communicating with my website visitors in real-time. The advantages range from increasing web traffic to creating valuable relationships over time.
I’ve tried a lot of chat software in the Web yet only one chat tool has truly satisfied me. Chatwing’s chatbox is simple yet dynamic in more ways than one. I like its simple interface which makes installation fast and easy. I was able to use the chat application in less than a minute. I was also provided with a wide array of customization option which made it easier for me to personalize the chat widget and fit in to my chosen web theme.My chat room is as unique as my website.Another thing I liked about Chatwing chatsoftware is its flexibility in terms of providing global connectivity. As a user, I can choose whether I want to interact with thousands of chatters or just with a chosen group of people. The regular shoutbox can handle thousands of web surfers without a decline in efficiency proving that Chatwing works under a very stable communication platform. On the other hand, the vanity URL style facilitates group chat through generating username and short links.Exchange of ideas and suggestions about the new advancements and technological tools has never been this interactive. Opinions and sentiments can be exchanged real time with people around the world. You’ll be able to get and share insights with just a few clicks. Also, maintaining a decent and professional conversation is hassle free, just activate Chatwing chat widget’s word filter to automatically sort out offensive words.Chatwing is really a reliable web chat tool because upgrades never stop. According to many bloggers, the Chatwing team promises to include more useful applications in the coming months.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Essential Android Apps

A few essential apps for those more technically minded Android users out there. If you know of others that should be in here let me know in the comments.
This one is almost a no-brainer. Everyone who knows Android is Linux underneath (and who knows Linux) normally heads for a command line to check things out right off the bat. You can get access via ADB, but having direct access right on the device is killer. This app gives you access to the command shell built into the device.
ConnectBot is an SSH client application for your phone. It’s a fantastic application for quick access to remote systems. If you’re on a device without a physical keyboard it’s not quite as slick to use (I wouldn’t recommend trying to use vi on a remote system from a Samsung Galaxy for instance), but for quick tasks it can be fantastically convenient.
Market link: ConnectBot
Advanced Task Killer
This seems to be a pretty consistent tool in most advanced user’s toolboxes. Android apps can keep running in the background. Most of the ones that do give you good ways to control when they run, and the OS itself does a generally good job of managing them. But if you tend to poke around with lots of apps and try out all the different tools you hear about you’re bound to run across one or two that misbehave every once in a while. When you do, Advanced Task Killer can help you figure out what’s going on and set things right again.
Market link: Advanced Task Killer
Astro File Manager
This is the free version of a file manager application. There’s a paid version that includes a ton of additional features, but so far I’ve stuck with the free version. Nice interface for browsing around and seeing what files are on your device. Includes built in viewers that generally handle text and image files well.
Market link: Astro File Manager
Dropbox is a free service that lets you store files online and sync them between systems. If you don’t already have an account and want to try it out please sign up using this affiliate link (I get credit for the signup and get some free space on Dropbox if you do). They have an Android application that allows viewing, downloading, or uploading. Together with an application like Astro you can upload arbitrary files from your phone to Dropbox as well. From within Dropbox use upload from the menu, and then select any file and use Astro to complete the action.
Market link: Dropbox
Scripting Layer for Android
An app that allows for accessing native Android functions from multiple scripting languages. Once you install SL4A you can use it to pull down interpreters. A bunch are available, like Unix shell, Python, Perl, Ruby, and others. Then you can run scripts in those languages that tie into Android specific functions. SL4A is not available in the Marketplace however, so use the info on the Google Project page to download the apk directly. If you’re on an AT&T device like the Samsung Captivate and haven’t hacked it to allow direct third party installs you’ll have to load the apk files using ADB. As of right now, it seems you need to download the core SL4A app and then separate downloader shims for the different interpreters. The base sl4a seems to only have shell installed by default. But once you install something like python_for_android_r1.apk and click install within that app you’ll get Python support in sl4a

The biggest revolution in communications over the last couple of years must be the emergence of mobile devices as the dominant communication tools, eating much of the market share that had been the preserve of PCs. Smartphones and tablet computers have become the norm, with many people acquiring them. But then, behind this veil of success rages a bitter war between smartphone manufacturers, and it is getting uglier by the day. O, what is the war all about?
Smartphone wars

Battle for Numbers

Of course, the main battle between smartphone manufacturers is with regard to getting as many people as possible to use their devices and platforms. This is one metric that has been consistently used to gauge the smartphone manufacturers, as well as the operating systems powering them. When the smartphone revolution started with the release of the flagship iPhone, there was little competition. At that time, if you had to get a smartphone, then you had to get an iPhone. The other phones that were leaders in the market by then, such as Nokia, could not match the computing power and elegance of the iPhone. For a couple of years after its launch, the iPhone, in its various iterations, had an unassailable lead. This also brought the stark distinction between a normal‘ phone and a smartphone. For example, Nokia phones at this time were running on the Symbian operating system, which was not that powerful. When the iPhone was launched, it totally redefined the mobile phone market, and sold many pieces worldwide.
However, Google was taking note of this revolution. At the time the iPhone was launched, Google was secretly working on its own smartphone operating system, called Android. When Google released their operating system, it did not cause much of a star. This is simply because Google did not have their own branded phone, meaning that it could only reach a few people. Although Android was released on the HTC Dream phone, it did not pose a direct challenge to iOS. Android was also reported to be very slow, and it also had numerous security concerns. But Google kept improving its software as well as collaborating with major handset manufacturers. This then led to the rise of Android as a worthy challenger to iOS. The release of Samsung Galaxy S3 must have been the trigger point that led Android to surpass iOS and the most widely used smartphone operating system, since Android is also powering numerous smartphones from different manufacturers, spanning across all price ranges. Some analysts, such as Venture Beat, have placed Android’s global market share at 70%.
Windows on the other hand has been very late to the party, and it is now playing catch up to Google and Apple.  With fewer than 3% of the smartphone market share, Microsoft is significantly trailing Android and Google. However, Microsoft and Nokia have noticed that the only way they can mount a viable challenge against Apple and Google is by partnering; this is made evident by the fact that Nokia has gobbled up 70% of Windows operating system share, making it the front runner in competing with iOS and Android.

App Market

ios vs android vs windowsThe mobile revolution has most certainly been fueled by the emergence of mobile phone apps as a great way of making the mobile devices more powerful. Apple were the first to venture into this market, as they sought to build a vibrant ecosystem of app developers that would make apps that would exponentially improve the usefulness of their mobile devices. The sheer number of apps in Apple’s AppStore is also a good pointer as to how valuable and integral this market has been. These apps have been designed to run on the iPhone, as well as the iPad, as they both run the iOS operating system. Some of the iOS apps are free of charge to download, while you have to pay for others. However, the pricing of these apps has been such that they are very cheap, enabling people to download many of them. But this model is not a preserve of Apple, since their biggest rival, Android, also cloned the model to launch their own Google Play Store.
However, the approach for Google in developing the Google Play Store, as well as coming up with the guidelines for developing Android apps has been somewhat complicated. This is due to the fact that, unlike iOS, Android powers many different smartphones, all with different specifications. Thus, creating an app that works well on all handsets and tablets that run Android has been a great challenge. But this has not lessened the momentum at which Android is challenging iOS. Many developers have taken the leap of faith and developed numerous apps to run on Android devices.
Microsoft entered the smartphone competition with the launch of Windows Mobile; unfortunately, this mobile operating system has not experienced the huge success that Microsoft operating system for PCs experienced. This is mainly due to the fact that Android and iOS had already taken up much of the smartphone market share, a combined figure of more than 90%. But the recent launch of Windows Store was a sign that Microsoft was very keen on getting a sizable share of the mobile market. Also, Windows Mobile 8 was a remarkable release, as it promised to make it easier than before for developers to develop, host and sell their apps. The number of Windows Mobile apps has been increasing steadily, although it is still tiny, as compared to the number of iOS and Android apps.
It is fair to note that Nokia has been developing apps for a number of years; however, these apps have been quite inferior since they have not been optimized to run on smartphones. Nokia then realized that they needed to create more powerful apps, and the most effective way of doing this was to partner with Microsoft so that they can launch Nokia smartphones powered by Windows Mobile. This partnership looks promising, since the number of Nokia smartphones running on Windows Mobile operating system has increased significantly. Thus, Nokia is betting heavily on the success of Windows Mobile operating system to drive their smartphones.
As of writing, here’s recent statistics on App numbers providing by credible resources:
App Store – 791, 974+
Google Play – Roughly 800, 000+
Blackberry App World – 99, 500+
Windows Phone – 150, 000+

Legal Wars

Perhaps the biggest wars being fought at the moment by smartphone giants is on the legal front. The biggest battles between smartphone companies are on patents, with iPhone and Samsung, who account for the largest share in the smartphone industry, trading numerous accusations of patent infringements, especially with regard to the design of their smartphones. One such case stands out clearly: in August 2012, Apple won a suit against Samsung over the ‘pinch to zoom’ and ‘scrolling bounce back’ patents. The settlements that were offered caused loud mumbling from mobile industry commentators. This case was heard in the US, and at the end, Apple was awarded US$1 billion by the court, and Samsung was compelled to pay the amount. However, Samsung filed a counter suit, and they were then awarded US$0. This caused Samsung to complain that the verdict was not fair at all, but it nonetheless paid the amount. Samsung also filed a suit in a Seoul court, claiming that Apple has infringed on some of their patents. However, the court ruled that both Apple and Samsung infringed each other’s patents. The battle between Samsung and Apple on the smartphone front has intensified since Samsung decided to run their phones on Android, an operating system developed by Apple.
Interestingly, legal battles in the smartphone industry have been increasing, with many more smartphone companies jumping into the foray. When Google acquired Motorola Mobility, there were rumors that Google aimed at making its own smartphone to run on its successful Android market. Apple responded soon after by filing a suit in a US court, claiming that Google’s Motorola Mobility has infringed a number of patents. However, these claims seemed to be baseless, as the court threw out the case.
Microsoft also took a swipe at Google in 2011 when it filed a suit that sought to give the former a licence fee of US$15 from Samsung for every device it sold that ran on Android. Microsoft won this case and had Samsung pay them the royalties. This was a major statement by Microsoft, since it had now effectively joined the murky waters of patent litigation that were now all too common. Microsoft also had several suits and counter-suit salvos with Motorola, especially in 2010, over patent infringement. At some point, it as lost to observers on what was worth suing for, since even the smallest or even imagined violations usually led to a series of suits and counter suits.
Nokia was also part and parcel of the patent litigation wars, although it’s started off these wars with Apple when the latter launched the iPhone. Nokia fired the first salvo by suing Apple over ten patents in 2009; less than three months later, Apple counter-sued with claims that Nokia had violated 13 of its patents. This exchange then continued for a number of years, with these companies suing for all sorts of patent infringements.
In order to underline how the legal wars based on patent infringements have become crucial, Google acquired 1023 patents from IBM in 2011, giving it greater power to keep its competitors at bay. Such kinds of wars are still far from over, with each smartphone manufacturer and mobile operating systems trying to out-innovate each other.

Future Outlook

It seems that mobile devices are the future, and this is greatly powered by constant innovation in this market. Smartphones are becoming more powerful by the day, and this is thanks to the numerous computing power that is packed in each new smartphone. Some current trends are a great indication of what is to come. For example, Google has made its fortune from selling advertisements, and they have noted that with more people using mobile devices than they are using personal computers, they can tap this emerging trend by selling their ads on mobile devices. This is why they released Android as a free mobile operating system, and they have been refining it with every subsequent release.
Windows Mobile is also proving to be quite something to watch, though it will be a momentous task for it to eclipse Android or even iOS. But the partnerships that Microsoft is snapping up with major smartphone manufacturers should not be ignored by analysts, since it may jolt the mobile industry market share. Nokia is also angling towards working with Microsoft in order to be able to sell more smartphones, but time will tell whether this will actually cause any significant shifts in the mobile industry.
The biggest question on the lips of most mobile industry analysts is whether Apple will continue innovating by keeping iPhone at the top of the pyramid of smartphones. The sure thing is that the smartphone industry will continue being dynamic, with growth in innovation being punctuated by legal wars over patent infringements.